American heiress Peggy Guggenheim was an avid art collector who lived in Venice for three decades. The unique 18th century palace she called home is instantly recognizable on the Grand Canal for its low and understated stone façade amongst so many towering lace-like mansions on every side. Though minimalist from the outside, today the palazzo has been converted into one of Italy’s most famous modern art museums. Stroll through the heiress’s old dining room, study and salons to admire work that spans from cubism to abstract expressionism.
Venice has no shortage of palaces-turned-museums thanks to its prosperous past as a wealthy trade center from medieval times through the Renaissance. The stately marble palazzi that line the Grand Canal are basically works of art themselves, filled with antiquities and hand painted frescoes by some of Italy’s greatest masters.
But this city of waterside mansions and picturesque canals has more to offer than Baroque architecture and gilded attractions. Every two years, the canals and historic buildings of La Serenissima become the backdrop to La Biennale—one of the most prestigious and forward thinking events in the contemporary art world, and by far one of the best things to do in Venice.
From galleries filled with modern masterpieces, artisan craftsmanship and historic palaces, here are the best museums in Venice.